Jun 13 2020

The Masque of the Red States

It was in the blue room where stood the prince, with a group of pale courtiers by his side. At first, as he spoke, there was a slight rushing movement of this group in the direction of the intruder, who at the moment was also near at hand, and now, with deliberate and stately step, made closer approach to the speaker. But from a certain nameless awe with which the mad assumptions of the mummer had inspired the whole party, there were found none who put forth hand to seize him; so that, unimpeded, he passed within a yard of the prince’s person; and, while the vast assembly, as if with one impulse, shrank from the centres of the rooms to the walls, he made his way uninterruptedly, but with the same solemn and measured step which had distinguished him from the first, through the blue chamber to the purple — through the purple to the green — through the green to the orange — through this again to the white — and even thence to the violet, ere a decided movement had been made to arrest him. It was then, however, that the Prince Prospero, maddening with rage and the shame of his own momentary cowardice, rushed hurriedly through the six chambers, while none followed him on account of a deadly terror that had seized upon all. He bore aloft a drawn dagger, and had approached, in rapid impetuosity, to within three or four feet of the retreating figure, when the latter, having attained the extremity of the velvet apartment, turned suddenly and confronted his pursuer. There was a sharp cry — and the dagger dropped gleaming upon the sable carpet, upon which, instantly afterwards, fell prostrate in death the Prince Prospero. Then, summoning the wild courage of despair, a throng of the revellers at once threw themselves into the black apartment, and, seizing the mummer, whose tall figure stood erect and motionless within the shadow of the ebony clock, gasped in unutterable horror at finding the grave-cerements and corpse-like mask which they handled with so violent a rudeness, untenanted by any tangible form.

And now was acknowledged the presence of the Red Death. He had come like a thief in the night. And one by one dropped the revellers in the blood-bedewed halls of their revel, and died each in the despairing posture of his fall. And the life of the ebony clock went out with that of the last of the gay. And the flames of the tripods expired. And Darkness and Decay and the Red Death held illimitable dominion over all.

It really doesn’t matter if you know with firm and delusional conviction that you are among the Elect!, who, having suffered this Vale of Tears, will sit at the Right Hand of the Lord.

That’s why they handle snakes, it’s a Faith test.

Looking forward to Jacksonville, I really am, because these guys deserve their Darwin Award. The down side is that Republicans don’t walk around with “Asshole” tattooed on their foreheads so sometimes it’s hard to tell until they open their mouths and then it’s too late.

Though not gloving and masking out of courtesy to others is a good tell.

‘All of a Sudden It Blows Up’: Arkansas’ COVID Problem Is Just Getting Started
by Olivia Messer, Daily Beast
Jun. 13, 2020

For those hoping a slew of Southern and rural states might have avoided the worst of the pandemic entirely, Friday’s case counts provided a grim answer.

Arizona, North Carolina, California, Florida, and Texas hit record daily highs of COVID-19 infections this week, as state public health leaders pleaded with their communities to take the ongoing crisis seriously.

But there are few states whose experience of the coronavirus pandemic has shifted more radically in recent weeks than Arkansas.

On Friday, the state reported that there were 731 new cases, a record increase. Those numbers brought the cumulative total there to 11,547, of which 3,764 were active. At last count, 176 people had died from the virus.

Even if Arkansas saw its first COVID-19 case in March—and has had its share of “super-spreader” events—experts painted a picture of communities there facing the pandemic’s full fury for the first time.

“It’s part of a broad pattern in the U.S. of resurgent infections that are sweeping across many states,” said William Haseltine, a public health expert, former Harvard Medical School professor known for his work on HIV, and the president of the global health think tank ACCESS Health International. “We’re about to see hospital systems in states like Arkansas…. begin to experience what we did in New York, with facilities being overwhelmed by this epidemic.”

Washington Regional Medical System in Fayetteville, Arkansas, called attention to the “serious public health emergency” caused by a “significant” surge in community spread in the northwest region of the state in a letter on Wednesday.

“On May 12, there were four COVID-19 positive patients in Northwest Arkansas hospitals,” said Birch Wright, the chief operating officer and administrator for the facility. “Since then, we’ve seen the number of hospitalizations double every week, and we now have more than 70 COVID-19 positive patients in area hospitals.”

“It is important for our community to understand that we are not seeing more hospitalizations simply because more testing is being done,” added Wright. “We are seeing more hospitalizations because more people in our area are being infected with the virus.”

In the past week, Wright said, Washington Regional had seen a 170 percent increase in the number of tests performed at screening clinics, and a 350 percent increase in the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients. Of those, it also saw more critically ill virus patients, with more than 30 percent of those who’d been hospitalized requiring ventilator support.

The hospital opened a second inpatient care unit on Tuesday to handle the rush of “suspected and confirmed COVID-19 patients,” noted Wright, in addition to re-opening a separate clinic in Fayetteville dedicated to handling the increased demand for screening and testing for individuals who do not have symptoms but believe they have had exposure.

But even with those stats coming from the state health department and local hospitals, this week, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said the state will move forward with Phase 2 of lifting its restrictions on businesses—like restaurants, schools, and gyms—on Monday, June 15. (Though it never imposed a full lockdown, the state did rein in public gatherings.) That tension mirrors the same phased reopenings in Texas, California, Florida, and Arizona, where cases were also surging on Friday.

As news broke all over the country this week of states’ record-high daily case counts, Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said that “we still have a lot of work ahead as we reopen America.” He addressed reporters directly in a telebriefing, the CDC’s first since March 14, to debut a set of guidelines for Americans to follow in daily life, including wearing masks to the bank and washing hands at dine-in restaurants.

Ok. Here’s where you stop and remark, “First since March 14th?!”


“It continues to be extremely important that we embrace the recommendations of social distancing, hand washing, and wearing a face covering in public,” said Redfield. “It’s important that we remember this situation is unprecedented and that the pandemic has not ended.”

Well, if you want to live.

And as I say, your Suicidal Ideation bothers me not a bit unless you land on me in your Doom Plunge or I pick up a Flat from your flaming Bridge Abutment wreckage.

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